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Need advice on feeding a vision impaired hen

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by 21hens-incharge, Oct 11, 2015.

  1. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    I know many will say cull and perhaps it will come to that in the end.

    I have an elderly leghorn that is more of a pet then producer. She has been dropping weight lately. I thought from molting. I was wrong.
    I gave some tomatoes from the garden as a treat and discovered she cannot see well enough to eat properly. She pecks a couple inches past where the item is sitting. She ended up giving up and going inside away from the other hens and the treat.
    I took her a 3 inch tomato just for her and closed the others out. She wanted it and tried for it but could not hit the target hard enough to break the tomato skin. I broke it open for her and placed it on the ground. She got a couple bites but then it rolled to close to her and she lost its location. I tried with a 5 inch tomato with the same result. I think for a hen a 5 inch target is pretty big.

    I am wondering if I feed her alone twice a day if that will be enough or if I need to do a third feeding. I will give her high protein items in a wide dish so she has a huge target to hit. I am planning on feeding her alone so there is no competition.

    Items I plan to add to some layer feed for her

    Mackerel
    scrambled eggs
    BOSS
    canned cat food (not my first choice of course)

    Other ideas are always welcome.

    Yes if it comes down to that she just cannot eat I will cull her. No need to let her starve to death.
     
  2. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    So do you free range?

    I have an elderly Faverolles hen who is visually impaired. I keep a feeder and waterer in the same location in the coop. Free range is not an option for me because of predators. Even with a static feeder she still misses when trying to feed sometimes, but she does eat enough eventually. And she does get enough to drink. So maybe keeping her in a place with a feeder and waterer in a specific location may help.
     
  3. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would skip the canned cat food. I won't even feed any brands to my cat.
     
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    She needs a balance diet, not higher protein. Flock Raiser would work, maybe in a wide deeper dish, as long as she's done laying eggs. She sounds confused, not only blind. Mary
     
  5. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    I do not free range to many hawks and I rather like my gardens.
    The thought on mixing the feed in with the treats is that it would get her attention and get her started eating. Higher protein treats is just because I do not want to drop her protein with things like scratch or veggies since she is not eating enough to maintain any decency to her body weight. There are also 10 other chickens in her group that would need to be allowed back in the coop before I have to leave for work. I would need her to eat at a decent speed so I could let them back in.

    They are fed feather fixer this time of year since many are in molt. It is an 18% protein. Even during the time when no one is molting I stick with the 18% feed.

    I agree canned cat food is disgusting. I do have a cat that can only eat that and is on numbered days so I have it on hand for him. (he is over 20 years old and has only a couple teeth left)

    The food and water are in the same location all the time. I know she knows where they are. I went back out to open the door for the others and see how much she ate of the tomatoes. She managed to eat about a quarter of the 5 inch tomato. I also refilled the feeders while out there and she was interested in it but simply could not hit the mark. The feeder is a metal "holds 20 pounds of feed" one. The distance from the outer ring to the tube is about an inch and a half maybe two inches.

    Maybe I need to get her on fermented feed so it is moist and could be spread in the wide dish while being better balanced.

    She is elderly and I am bracing for needing to cull. There are several her age so I will be shocked if I don't have to face the music before spring.
     
  6. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with Folly's place that she needs a balanced diet and not more protein. One reason not to feed chickens excessive protein is that it raises the levels of uric acid in the blood stream, and chickens naturally have higher levels than mammals. The kidneys have to work harder to remove the extra uric acid. More greens in the diet would be better, and could be mixed with the fermented feed.
     
  7. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    I did have some success with her this morning. She was given some mash with a scrambled egg on top. I know it upped the protein a bit but since she had not been eating anything it cannot have hurt for her to have it once.

    She managed to eat mostly all of the egg and did eat some of the mash as well.

    I want to be clear...

    The reason for adding treats at all is to get her attention on the food. Not to up the protein or supplement the diet. Simply to get her eating something, anything.

    It is more appealing to have a cookie than the same old gruel so the "cookie" (in this case a scramble egg) is bait if you will. Tomorrow I will give her some eyecatching red tomato pieces or some bright green grass (yes chopped small enough to not bind up in the crop).

    I really do not expect this to work long term. Better to die with a full belly than an empty one. I may cull her Saturday depending on how she is doing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  8. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some protein is definitely okay, just not all protein treats. I agree with you also that she should be spoiled if she is going to die. We used to give out pet Orpington rooster a plate of cut up grapes every night before bed. It was his routine and he loved the grapes. Towards the end he had trouble seeing where the plate was, but managed to eat them all with some help. He slept on a towel in a corner in our house.
     
  9. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

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    She is able to eat the fermented feed (mash really). I no longer have to bribe her to take a bite. Today she stood right by the dish while I put the food down for her. Normally she is very twitchy and would not be willing to get that close to humans. She was acting like she was really hungry not like she was going to fall over dead. She came to the dish when she saw me come in the coop.

    Last night after she had eaten I went ahead and put a very small amount of BOSS on top of what she had not finished and she ate a little more.

    I am going to count it as a win for now.
     
  10. BBQJOE

    BBQJOE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Void where prohibited.
    I'm so confused. I thought feeding chickens tomatoes was a no no.
     

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